(On-the-spot prose character studies for a novel idea I toyed with for a while and still idly work on. For those of you wondering, it was going to be a modern-day rewrite of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with some rather important tweaks, to make the plot actually function in modern day, and some rather important notes on Fae Culture, to make, uh, that plot not…um…awful.)
They don’t understand, and it makes Robin laugh.
The joy of a prank – the glory of a prank, really – is not from the laughter it derives (though he loves the sound of his friends’ laughs, more than anything in the world), nor is it from the delight the Mortal glean from it (though their short lives are filled with so little, delight to them must be the flower’s opening to a butterfly), nor, really, is it merely the pleasure of a prank done well (though there’s artistry in that to be sure).
No, the true glory of a prank – to Robin, always, and forever – is the chaos it engenders.
The anger and confusion when the handbrake goes missing from a car, to be found in the most homophobic member of staff’s locker with a love note; the bafflement when someone opens their lunch box to find it filled with grass; and oh, the absolute chaos when Robin completely rewired the sound system so that all it played, over and over and over, was recordings from Hitler’s speech to the German youth. The German exchange students looked deeply confused (and more than a little offended), while the Jews in the school were either pissing themselves laughing or on the verge of rioting.
Granted, his pranks were often cruel. Robin never claimed to be kind. Kindness didn’t get you laughs. Kindness didn’t get you delight.
Kindness didn’t net you chaos.
From the moment he moved here, Jacob could feel the world slowly dying, and he hated it with a passion.
He loathed it. The slow turn of the world towards death. Each tick of the second hand, he could feel all of the people around him slowly die, while he remained, eternal, youthful, immortal.
Oh, of course, he wasn’t, actually – none of the Fae were, not since the Splintering and the First Murder – but his lifespan was so intensely long compared to these brief, flickering beings beside him, it was like comparing the timespan of a planet to that of a pebble.
And when he first arrived, he resented the children around him. The small, petty fights, their weaknesses, their drama, their loathings of one another. How dare they be so immune to their own deaths, when he had to feel them dying each second of every day?
At least, that was how he felt.
Then, one day, apropos of nothing, he saw one of them gently, very, very gently, help a tiny, exhausted bumblebee onto a bench, and gently trickle some water into a pool by it. After a few minutes, the bee flickered it’s wings, and slowly, uneasily, buzzed away.
It was as if the world had gained a new color; as if a fog had abruptly lifted. These tiny, poor animals, dying slowly…but they didn’t see it that way. They saw themselves as the long-lived ones.
And every now and then, one of them stopped to help a tiny, dying creature, and net the world a little more life.
Jacob still hates the dying of the world; but now he helps the poor, kaleidoscopic creatures that walk it’s face. And every time he does, the world feels a little less dead to him.
This is not what a warrior should be doing.
Tiffany is older than both her friends, and has led charges, been in battle, has the scars to prove it. She should be back home, fighting, leading crusades.
So why is she here?
There are no wars for her to fight, to battles for her to lead. Only humans, poor, desperate things, that remind her so sorrowfully of the troops she led into battle – the ones she knew were always destined to die. Every time, she sees a long-lost face, one that would never return home, and she reaches out, because how can she not?
She wonders if the troops she lost were merely given new form here. Or, perhaps, it is her own mind tormenting her with could-have-beens and might-have-beens and should-have-beens.
Tiffany tries not to go in for introspection, but it is hard, when it feels like so little takes up her days here.
She is tired. She is worn out. Jacob does not listen to her stories, and does not believe her tales of battle.
She is beginning to wish that somebody else were her fiance…